Stephen Hawking: doctors offered to turn off life support 27 years agoBy Hayley Dixon2:57PM BST 28 Jul 2013
Professor Stephen Hawking was once so close to death that doctors had offered to switch off his life-support machine, but his wife refused.
In a new film, the renowned physicist tells how there was little hope when he contracted pneumonia in 1985 as he was writing A Brief History of Time, but his first wife, Jane, refused to give in and insisted he was returned to Cambridge from Switzerland.
Professor Hawking recovered to finish his book, which went on to sell 10 million copies.
Motor neurone disease kills most victims in five years, but the cosmologist has defied the odds and survived with the condition for five decades.
The new documentary, Hawking, shows his constant struggle with the possibility of death, the Sunday Times reported
He was in a drug induced coma on a life support machine when his wife of 20 years joined him in Geneva.
Professor Hawking, 71, says: "The doctors thought I was so far gone that they offered Jane to turn off the machine.
“Jane refused to turn it off. She insisted I be flown back to Cambridge."
But he admits: "The weeks of intensive care which followed were the darkest of my life.”
The illness left him on a ventilator, unable to speak, and needing constant care from nurses.
Their presence in his home was “life changing”, he says, and when he and Jane divorced in 1995 he married Elaine Mason, one of his former nurses.
The first Mrs Hawking, the mother of his three children says that his fame and illness sent them spiralling into a "black hole" of despair.
In the documentary, to be released in September to coincide with the publication of his memoirs, Professor Hawking says: “Because every day could be my last, I have a desire to make the most of every single minute.”
His assistant Niki Pigeon confirms that they will do all they can to help him, “but if he is in a total state we will have to let him go.”
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